Blind Tasting Competition 2022

Blind Tasting Competition 2022

The Blind Tasting Competition 2022 has started and you can follow the competition in this updated blog.

Sample 1: Mannochmore 22 Years Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Cask 12098 55.8% 

And we're off, the Blind Tasting competition 2022 has officially started. For the first dram, we have chosen this 22 year old diamond in the rough. The main reason would be that it is not on the radar with most tasters. Though the bigger part of Mannochmore ends up in blends, there are some single cask releases that are certainly worth trying.

We selected this whisky, because we suspected that not many would have guessed Mannochmore, although guessing a Speysider would have been fairly easy due to its character. The hints of coffee and walnuts and oily spirits would have led to the direction of this Mannochmore. That combined with spiciness, apples and berries makes it a dram to fall in love with. Well done those who guessed this distillery correctly!

Knocking at the 90 points bar in our book, this very lovely Gordon & Macphail selection. We would love to see more of these kinds of releases!

Tasting note by Maltfascination 89/100 Points
Rather old fashioned on the nose, with hints of gentle sherry. Oak, hessian and a whiff of cardboard. Wet soil, a bit of funk, dark chocolate, hazelnuts. Some oranges in the back.
Very dry and rather sharp. Hessian, cardboard, white pepper, and sawdust. A hint of vanilla with some chocolate and orange pith. There’s a bitter edge to it, but in a good way. I think I’m getting some coastal notes of salinity too.
It stays old fashioned throughout, but the finish focuses on those slightly funky notes a bit more. Old barley, sawdust and dunnage warehouses. Orange pith, white pepper, a bit of sherry fruitiness too.
I really love this dram and I regret it only came in a 2cl sample. I still am not sure whether this should be an 89 or 90 pointer in my book. There is a lot of complexity to peel back and get to all the different layers of flavor.

Gorgeous stuff and quite regularly available still! Lately, as in, the last couple of years, I think G&M is on a roll with their Connoisseur’s Choice bottlings. There have been many semi-affordable gems from this range!

Sample 2: Lagavulin 12 Years Old Diageo Special Releases 2021 56.5%

The story goes that the name Lagavulin derives from the Gaelic term Lag a' Mhuilinn which means as much as “Hollow of the mill”

Due to the peaty character this was unmistakably a Soutern Islay Scotch whisky: Lagavulin. Peat smoke, smoked turnips, and a terpeny nose, as well as those wonderful whiffs of licorice. The taste, apart from its peaty character, offers almonds and this would have led you to Lagavulin as your pick of the day. Congrats on those who guessed this right!

There is something for everyone in this competition, and I think for the peat-lovers among us, this dram feels like coming home. Also Serge Valentin really loved this whisky, giving this extraordinary dram 92 points.

Tasting Note by Maltfascination 86/100 Points
A heavy kind of peat smoke, with more peaty notes than crisp smoke. Floral and grassy too, with straw, dried flowers and hay. Soil, peat, dried lemon.
Ah yes, the peat is very much at the fore-front here too. Quite a peppery dram, in a very punchy way. Little oaky notes, but there is some bitterness, and lots of grass and straw. I would not be surprised if this is a virgin oak cask, even though it’s not overly oaky. It does have that sharpness that sometimes (often?) comes with the territory.
The finish only lingers in the front of your mouth and barely touches your throat. Brine, rocks and slightly mineral like, with peppery heat and lots of peat

Sample 3: Fettercairn 14 Years Old Infrequent Flyers Cask 1823 55,2%

The name Fettercairn is a merge from the Gealic word “Fothair” and the Pictish “Carden” and means as much as “Slope by a thicket”, or more commonly explained as The foot of the mountain. At Best of Wines we have some fond memories of Fettercairn, this whisky can range from mediocre to outstanding drams: River deep, mountain high. It’s one of those distilleries that surfaces below the radar and that is a shame in our opinion. The last couple of years there have been consecutive outstanding releases, such as the new flagship 12 years old and lets not forget the warehouse 2 special releases. The character suggests it’s a Highlander: fruity with dried fruits and floral. Fettercairn would have been a wild guess since a lot of its character is masked by the Oloroso cask that was used. The toast in the taste though is one of those distillery profile characters that would have pointed you in the right direction. Did this Fettercairn surprise you as much as it did us? It is an infrequent flyer for sure..

Tasting note by Maltfascination 86/100 Points
Initially I thought it was sherry, but upon nosing it a little bit I’m confused. I’m thinking more in line of a port cask now. Very strange. Black cherries, dried plums, wet casks.
The palate starts off rather gentle compared to the earlier two of the evening. It’s not as fruity as I expected, although there is a slight note of cherry and plum. Rancio, wet casks, quite a bit of old oak. Still not sure about the cask type.
The finish is still rich and heavy, with a bit more bite than I expected. Still, not a lot of heat though. Again, very rich and heavy, some cherry and plum notes.
I’m sticking with sherry. Not 100% sure either way, but it’s not a very confident port cask either. Not very tawny-red fruit forward, so to say.
The fortified wine is pushed forward quite a bit. And in combination with the spirit it makes for a bit of a weird flavor profile. As I said, not a very clear sherry cask at all (to me). But, on the other hand, a rather tasty Fettercairn, and that’s not a regular thing either.

Sample 4: Springbank 12 Years Old Cask Strength Batch 20 55.3%

One third of this epic blind tasting battle has been done. currently is in the lead is Sander Blommaert with 206 points followed by The Dvivon LTD with 203 points.

Always a 90 points plus rating in our book. Springbank has become so scarce these days it isn’t even funny anymore. Prices go up directly after release and it’s sold out by the snap of a finger. Luckily we now have the chance of actually drinking this wonderful dram instead of it disappearing in an investor's collection. The Springbank Cask Strength editions are a Best Of Whiskies favourite. It’s like Connor McGregor stepping in the MMA ring and giving you an uppercut with the “ooompf factor” and then it becomes gently soft. The gently peated character suggests Campbeltown on the whisky map and rightfully so. Wax, dried fruits and there’s the kicker in de finish in the form of Oranges. Textbook Springbank!

 Tasting note by 89/100 Points

These Springbank Cask Strength bottlings are always a sure bet. I’ve not tried all of them, but I did have quite a few over the years, so far none of them were disappointing.
This specific version was released in 2020, and matured in a combination of sherry and bourbon casks (35% and 65% respectively).
Lots of crisp green and yellow fruit. Apples, star fruit, unripe pears, orchard stuff. Some oak in the background, fresh oak shavings. With a bit of time there’s a bit of funkiness coming through. Like old leather and attics. Flint and slate too.
The palate is a lot more timid than I expected. There’s some dryness but not much of a bite. Lots of old white oak, a little acidity that might be because of a slightly higher age. The fruitiness is a bit towards old apples and unripe pears. Grape seeds.
The finish start with a bit more sweetness towards the fruity notes. A slightly syrupy touch without becoming cloying or anything. Long with lots of bright notes and a grape seed edge of light bitterness.
Strangely, I found this whisky to be rather timid, for it’s over 55% abv. Also, the sherry was quite restrained and didn’t really show all that much. A very good bit of whisky making from Campbeltown, with the result being a layered and complex dram that is very enjoyable to sit back with.

Sample 5: Macallan Rich Cacao The Harmony Collection 44%

This day everybody scored at least 20 points. This is a No Age Specified (NAS) Whisky, which means that - according to our rules - everybody will get points for age.

Macallan has been hyped, just like the Springbank we had yesterday. But Macallan has already been hyped for years and why is that? Aside from the high quality of whisky they produce, Macallan has been one of the larger and most famous distilleries of Scotland for many decades. This hype is well-earned and in our humble opinion derives from the quality and continuity of the whiskies they produce.

This Macallan is a collaboration with Jodi Roca, one of the Roca brothers of the *** Michelin star restaurant El Celler de Can Roca in Girona Spain. Jodi Roca is the “dessert artist” and has he nailed it with Rich Cacao. I do taste the Cacao in this dram. It's also one of the key features Macallan is known for, so Jodi certainly had a great flavour profile to work with! This has a typical Speyside character and especially Macallan is known for oranges, chocolate, forest fruits and a wee bit rummy yummy. Lesser known is the copper in the taste, but also a feature you find in Macallan whiskies.

Tasting note by 83/100 Points
There is a LOT of sweet sherry on the nose with a bit of a funky edge to it. Stewed red fruits, baked apple, baking spices too. A fairly timid distillery character apart from the funkiness. There’s a spicy heat in the background, black pepper and chilis. A trace of bitterness too, dark chocolate and fruit stones. With more time notes of fudge become more and more prominent.
The palate is very consistent with the nose, with the same peppery bite and otherwise a rather light character. Chilis, a bit of a funkiness of those stewed fruits and baked apples. Some oak, but not a lot. As in, the fruitiness feels wood-driven, but there’s not a lot of ‘direct’ oak.
The finish is a bit more rich, and a bit more dry. Some peppery spices again, some fruits, fudge and caramel. A slight coastal note too.
So, lots of sherry, but not the style of sherry I enjoy. Similar in style to the Hazelburn Oloroso cask that is released annually. Too sweet, at least for me. Of course, it’s not all bad, because there are similarities with Hazelburn (which was my guess initially, until the day before this it turned out to be Springbank). Some funky notes and some spices too.


Sample 6: Glen Garioch 10 Years Old M.Wigman They Inspired III Whisky Icons 53.4%

First we would like to mention that MULLOS scored a full 100points in this years competition. The first contester to achieve this, congrats!

Michiel Wigman is close friend of ours that we have known for decades in the whisky trade. Michiel knows his drams, and his series and cask selections are all according to his personal taste and style he likes most. This style we keep finding back in his bottlings is that eighties style dram that aged on bourbon. These kind of drams are becomming harder and harder to find, but Michiel knows where to find these hidden gems. We are happy that we are one of the distributors for this wonderful line of whisky. Packed with flavors, this Glen Garioch is one of those eighties style bourbon matured whiskies we just talked about. Character-wise, this is a little tea-ish and “green” as in herbal and spirity. There are slight similarities to Glen Moray, which would have fit the guess, but that is just a part of all that makes the profile of Glen Garioch distillery. An incredible achievement if you guessed it correctly.

Apart from the green and herbal notes, this whisky displays fresh lemon and caramel, bananas and bourbon flavours. A technical dram for nerds. In former years it were these kind of drams that really ended up being a game changer and we wouldn't be surprised if this whisky has also changed the leaderboard's appearance. Perhaps a nice fact about Glen Garioch, this is one of Scotland’s oldest still operating distilleries.

Tasting note by
Shoe polish and forced oak, a very young dram. Hot engine parts, scorched plywood. Lots of glue and nail polish remover. A pastry sweetness in the background.
Again, very young with a lot of sharp oak notes. Shoe polish, copper and hot engines. Freshly sawn plywood, including the sawdust and glue. The dryness, with heat and a whiff of bitterness are a little bit pithy.
The finish is slightly more sweet, but still very clunky and young. Very unrefined. Copper, metal.
Let’s disclaim that there’s always the off-chan.


Sample 7: Lindores Abbey The Exclusive Cask for the Netherlands Cask 18/577 59.1%

Currently in the lead The Dvivon LTD with 246 pints, followed by Christiaan with 259 points and currently in third position is Bar le matin 254.

Lindores Abbey is the spirit(u)al birthplace of Scotch whisky in 1494. The earliest written reference to Scotch Whisky (or Aqua Vitae, as it was then known) appears in the Exchequer Roll of the same year. A monk named Brother John Cor was commissioned by King James IV to turn 8 bolls (around 400 bottles) of malt into Aqua Vitae.
And now, more than 500 years later, whisky is once again being made on the same spot (proximity). With this dram the Lowlands region has put itself on the map. Very young, just 3 years old, yet the colour is as dark as espresso coffee.

There is no official distillery profile yet, as matter a fact they are still searching what direction they are going to aim for. It is as much a journey for Lindores as it is for us. Makes it interesting and exciting right? So, let’s just talk taste here. Chocolate (milk), caramel and red fruits. Some sandalwood (cigar boxes) and what I particularly loved is the Lapsang Souchong tea.


Sample 8: GlenAllachie The Duchess 24 Years Old Selected by Watt Whisky Cask 23 55.1%

Our good Friend Mark Watt has selected this 24 years old Duchess release. For those unfamiliar with the legendary Mark Watt: Cadenhead, Duncan Taylor, Electric Coo series with David stirk, Campbeltown Whisky Company and a few more. Mark earned his stripes in the whisky industry. This GlenAllachie 24 Years old is a single cask released by the Duchess, The Best of Wines owned independent fine & rare label. You can definitely taste the age in the mouthfeel. This is a Pre-Billy Walker (Another legend) release but something we are very proud about.
This Speyside distillery's profile is pretty broad. The lemon touch and hints of sulphur in this dram could however have directed you towards GlenAllachie. Apart from those flavors you can taste mango chutney, peaches and honeycomb.

Tasting note by 89/100 Points

Gentle on the bourbon cask with a good balance between cask, barley and spirit. Autumn leaves, puff pastry, moss. It’s quite light with some very crisp herbaceous notes.
The palate is a bit hotter than I expected. Dry, with some freshly sawn oak. Black pepper, dried breadcrumbs, puff pastry. Some vanilla, moss and ferns, autumn leaves. I get dried apple peel and a whiff of bitterness later on.
The finish shows a bit more cask. Some vanilla, pastry cream, sawdust.
Yes, this does live up to the price point. It’s just shy of a 90-pointer for me, but I love that the time in oak has done a lot for the whisky without overpowering it. It’s still very much about the balance between oak and spirit, which is what whisky is about

Sample 9: Highland Park 17 Years Old WhiskyNerds Secret Orkney Cask 13 49.4%

Secret Orkney? Not so secret at all! There are only two distilleries on the island of Orkney, one is Scapa and one is Highland Park. With Scapa it is known that they haven't sold a cask for the last decades to independent bottlers, so that rules out Scapa. With premium bloggers, such as stating openly that his is in fact Highland Park and the unmistakable Highland Park flavour profile, we can say for certain that this is in fact Highland Park. Luckily the WhiskyNerds also entrusted us with this detail, so even the last shrapnel of unrealistic possibilities vanished. The peatiness in this whisky could have hinted towards an a-typical Northern Islay or even a Highlander. But this, what we call “dirty” profile is typical Highland Park. With dirty we mean the notes of leather and heather, earthy peat smoke and tobacco. Also the minty eucalyptus in the finish was a very clear hint towards Highland Park.

Tasting note by 90/100 Points

There is a lot happening on the first nosing. There’s a bit of an austere note with some minerals, flint and straw. But there’s also something slightly sweeter. Something more fruity, more like ripe pears and honey. The typical whiff of heathery smoke is there too.
The palate starts with the more sweet notes of honey, some ‘northern’ orchard fruits like apples and pears. There’s some oak and smoke too, with those slightly austere coastal notes of rocks, and a whiff off brine. The ABV is rather toned down and that’s noticeable, it leaves far more room for other flavors than peppery heat to come through, although there is a minor note of white pepper. There’s a rather surprising note of marmalade and orange chocolates too.
The finish continues seemlessly, but does transform after a few seconds to show a little bit more intensity, before mellowing down to show all the honeyed goodness that was promised on the palate. That orange-y note is here too.
This is exactly why I love these secret Orkneys that have been popping up over the last couple of years. Absolutely gorgeous whisky.

There is a lot of complexity, with lots of flavours to be discovered. Sweeter notes, with some austerity. Coastal notes with some orchard fruits. All is good here. The sherry cask is present, but not massively so, which I think is a good thing. It really leaves room for the amazing spirit to sing!

Sample 10: Kilkerran 8 Years Old Cask Strength Batch 6 58.1%

Ceann Loch Cille Chiarain is the Gaelic name of the original settlement of Saint Kerran and his religious cult and is also where Campbeltown is situated today. Kilkerran (Distilled at Glengyle) is a distillery we are particularly fond of and for good reason. The story is epic how this was (re)build just to become a separate whisky region known as Campbeltown. This Kilkerran reminds us in a way of old Springbank. This is probably due to the fact that Frank McHardy, former distillery manager at Springbank, put his mark on it. It's the earthy peat and leather and farmy notes that come into play. That combined with that creamy taste only leads to... Kilkerran! We hope you all have become a Kilkerran fan if you weren't one already.

Tasting note by 87/100 Points

Very intense on the nose, and the sherry leaps out of the glass. Pecan pie with dates, and a little bit of yeasty funkiness. Barley and oak, true to Kilkerran’s character. It is not overly clearly a sherry cask to me. The increases funkiness could also be port, so I was slightly mislead during the Blind Tasting Competition. Stewed forest fruits, blackberries, strawberries.
Quite a biter, with some chilli pepper heat to indicate where you have any tiny cuts or scrapes in your mouth. Lots of funky sweetness, pecan pie with pecan paste, sweetened pastry, maple syrup. Some oak and yeastiness too. Stewed red fruits again, with more pepper. It stays hot, with a ‘fortified wine’ funkiness. Rather charry, the black bits on a flame grilled steak kind of note.
The finish is a bit more dry, and shows more notes of oak, and a sudden whiff of mocha to go with the pecan pie. Charry beef with stewed red fruits.

A bit of a strange one that leans a bit towards the port cask version, more so than I expected. But, when you can get this around its release date for the original price it’s a tremendous dram to sit down with. It might not be the most complex or not as ridiculously good as the regular Springbank 10, for example, but it sure as hell is entertaining!

Dram 11: Arran 18 Years Old 46%

Today's dram was masked by its heavy sherry influence. You have to work through the flavours to get to its spirit and to figure out what today's whisky was. Obviously the sherry influence gives the red berries and forest fruits.
Probably the cereal and the nuts could have been on your radar to pick Arran as today's distillery. If not then vanilla, green apples and a hint of lemony zest might have been the clue for you. We wish you all good luck with the last dram.

Dram 12: Bowmore 21 Years Old Aston Martin Masters Selection 51.8%

In the latest 007 movie, James Bond is driving an Aston Martin DBS. A car brand that has been intertwined with the movie franchise for decades. We like both the Bowmore Aston Martin whisky and the car better than the last movie. How did you like this whisky and the competition in general?
We take it not many of the participants have tasted this dram as mostly all availability has been bought by investors. Whisky is made for drinking and it is extremely nice that this blind tasting offers a chance to let you do just that with whisky.
This was certainly a textbook Bowmore. Tropical fruits and a medium peat level. With tropical fruits, we must be a little more precise, passion fruits is what we would be going for. Some would say pineapple and mangoes, but it is this fruitiness that would have made Bowmore the only distillery to be the correct choice. Some grapefruit in the taste as well and honey and a lingering long peat smoke in the finish.


Tasting notes by 80/100 Points

A sensible, gentle amount of peat, with quite a lot of sherry. Rather leathery, with an almond like bitterness. A bit of a ‘moldy plums’ aroma too, which I’m not the biggest fan of.
Dry and quite hot for the ABV, with more peppery heat than I expected. An oaky dryness with almonds, plums, dates and a whiff of briny smoke. Slightly less funky than the nose, but still a bit out of whack. A bit of chocolate, but also a bit moldy.
The finish is strangely hot again, with peppers and dry oak. Old dried fruit, plums and dates, but again, that thickly, cloying flavor that I can only relate too rotten or moldy fruit.
It turns out to be a rather love-it-or-hate-it whisky. A LOT of people love it, but I’ve heard some folks (some that I really appreciate for their palate as well as their personality) that it’s just not that good.

I’m with the latter group. It’s fairly straight forward on the sherry cask, not much interesting stuff is happening. That is already not great. But the few things that are happening are not the style of sherry I thoroughly enjoy. Too sweet, too much fruit and not enough depth. A very modern approach of sherry matured Bowmore that just doesn’t work well for me.

Closing words

This certainly was a competition where everything happened. We saw people climbing from the 60th place to the top five and other contenders steadily holding their spot receiving points every day. We would like to congratulate our 2022 winners! Also we would love to see you next year as 2023 will be interesting to participate again. Tell your friends and family about our competition and have them play against you next year.

Have you become curious about this competition? You can already reserve a spot in our next year's edition. Simply reach out to us at

See you then!

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